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How To Not Have A Panic Attack In The Dressing Room

The dressing room.

How we feel about our bodies cannot escape us when we are in the enclosed walls of the dressing room.

Last week I ventured into Anthropologie to buy myself an outfit to wear for an upcoming photoshoot. I walked into the store and was immediately greeted by two friendly employees who asked if I needed help. I responded like I usually do in clothing stores, “Nope, I’m good, I’m just looking around. Thanks though!”. As I continued grabbing beautiful dress after beautiful dress, another employee came up to me and asked if I needed help. First I told her I’d love to start a dressing room because I wanted to try everything in the store on. She giggled and before she walked away, something came over me, and I said,“Wait a second. I am actually looking for outfits to wear for a photoshoot I am doing for my website for body confidence coaching. Do you have anything that you think would flatter my body type and be good for the shoot?”. She immediately told me about Lena, the store stylist, and I went to the dressing room to meet her.

Asking for help in a store was new for me. I used to just walk in and hope I found something that would fit me so that I didn’t have to deal with the upset and shame that came after not being able to find anything that fit. Shopping used to be anything but fun. It was like the scale, only worse. I had this unconscious deal with myself…if I could fit into the jeans in this store, then I was a good girl and did something right. On the other hand, if the jeans didn’t fit, I was bad and then needed to punish myself all week with self-deprecating thoughts, a restrictive diet, and punishing exercise. Can you relate to this?

Lena asked me all about body confidence, what I was going for with the shoot, and got a vibe for who I was so that she could find clothes that not only look great on me, but that express who I am. LOVE!

And before she left to grab the clothes, she asked me what size I was. I noticed for a split second how I left my body and stopped breathing. Oh yes, this was why I never used to ask for help in clothing stores. I didn’t want anyone looking at my body, let alone hearing what size I was. I used to be ashamed, so I hid. But here I was, allowing this energetic and creative woman to help me with something near and dear to my heart. So I came back into my body, got connected to my heart and tummy, and owned it, “I’m a size 12/14 or large.” She gave me a smile and went off to pull some pieces.

In that moment, I realized how much I loved myself and I went on to have such a blast twirling around in the dresses she pulled for me (check out that one above! yes, it’s a selfie) as my favorite XX song played in the background. If something that she pulled didn’t fit, it just didn’t fit. It didn’t make me any less of a human being than I was the moment before. There was no more good girl vs bad girl, reward vs punishment. It was freedom, pure body confidence.

The dressing room, as anything, can be a place of punishment or freedom. It’s your choice what you make of it. It’s always your choice.

If you desire to be free in the dressing room, I want you to journal on the Body Confidence Qs below AND go to your favorite store, try on some fabulous clothes and play dress up! You don’t even have to buy anything, but I want you to begin to start playing with this- seeing that adorning your body can be a fun, enriching experience. If you notice you are playing the punishment, deprivation game, that’s okay too. Just notice. Becoming conscious of this is all you need to heal.

Body Confidence Qs of the week:

What memories do you have in the dressing room growing up?
How do you feel when something doesn’t fit?
How do you reward or punish yourself when you go shopping?
How are you hiding when you walk into a store?
Have fun, sister!

You can read more from Alison Leipzig on her blog.

  • Maria Del Carmen Corral

    I feel really bad when something doesn’t fit! And that is why I prefer not to go in a clothing store.

    • Alison Leipzig

      Hey Maria! I have totally been there but I want you to know that it doesn’t always have to be that way. You deserve to have clothing that fits and makes you feel amazing!! I wrote about how to not equate your self-worth with what fits in the dressing room here:

      Sending you love!

  • Jam Lopez

    I just don’t like looking at myself in front of the mirror at all. I have hydrocephalus and that’s the major reason I hate to check myself out. Because of my condition, I had to have multiple surgeries, which resulted into bald spots on my head, stitches on my arms, belly, and legs, plus I have mild case of strabismus. Adding to that would be my mother not boosting my confidence and instead berates me for having a shy personality and not being thin like my sisters.

    • Alison Leipzig

      Hey Jam! Wow, I can tell you are such a strong and powerful woman. I just want to pose this question to you: What would it feel like if you could not only accept those bald spots and stitches but actually love them? Do you believe that’s possible for you? If not, ask yourself if you want to and start doing the internal work. It may take a while but I know you will be able to truly see your beauty soon enough if you want to.

  • Diana Martinez

    I love going shopping. BUT I buy things i think might fit, if they don’t I just go back to the store and get another size or change what i bought because I rarely try things on. (too much time spent just because I don’t like to go into that trauma in the fitting room). I really feel bad when something doesn’t fit, and even it can ruin my day. I usually go alone, I don’t like to be with anyone while shopping, because I like to listen to my music and I just feel “free” without having people rushing me about getting something and go to another store.
    This is my last week at Atkins diet, I didn’t lost much weight. But I’ll think in your blog, I’ll love my body, and if the clothes won’t fit, well it won’t be a big deal. (There are many more sizes)
    I love to get a starbucks every time I go shopping, but since I can’t because of Atkins, this time won’t be possible. It’s been a hard month and I won’t ruin it. Coffee can wait.

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